Zucchini, or summer squash, is technically a fruit because it grows as a seed repository from the flower of the plant. Because summer squash cooks so well, it is generally treated as a vegetable. These delicious squashes can be shredded and served raw on top of a salad, spiralized and used as a veggie pasta, or sliced and cooked for a delicious side dish. They’re a nutritious and low-calorie addition to your diet!
Health Benefits of Zucchini
This versatile squash can aid you on the path to good health. From protecting your eyes with a high Vitamin C content to protecting your heart by reducing your cholesterol, zucchinis are an ideal dietary addition. They are great for those trying to reduce their food intake, thanks to their high fiber content.
High in Fiber
Because they are high in fiber and low in calories, this squash can aid in weight loss. The fiber and bulk of zucchinis can help to balance your gut and protect you from intestinal cancers. Low-fiber food spends a great deal of time in the gut, so if there are carcinogenic products in your diet, or products that may irritate your intestinal tract, you’re at greater risk of illness. High-fiber foods add cellulosic bulk to your waste products and are expelled by the body more efficiently.
Replace Low-Fiber Ingredients
The fiber content in zucchini becomes even more effective when you use this versatile squash as a replacement for low-fiber foods. For example, spiral squash noodles instead of wheat-based pasta protect your digestive tract from the sluggish intestinal movement sometimes caused by grains. Desserts and quick breads made with shredded zucchini contain more bulk than baked goods consisting mostly of flour, egg and milk, and do not linger unnecessarily in the digestive tract.
When using thin-skinned green zucchinis, don’t remove the dark green skin. You can enjoy further internal cleansing from the high anti-oxidant content in the skin of this fruit, helping your body shed free radicals and giving your cells a fighting chance.
This versatile product has a fairly high water content, so while it offers plenty of fiber in every serving, you needn’t worry about feeling bloated or overloaded. Zucchinis, enjoyed in moderation, will not upset the balance in your gut.
Zucchini Nutritional Value
Zucchinis are high in fiber and low in calories; a medium zucchini contains only 33 calories. However, they are extremely high in Vitamin C, providing you with 58% of your daily need. You can also gain Vitamin A, B-6 and magnesium from a single serving of this delicious squash.
Because zucchinis are rich in potassium, they’re an excellent addition to your summer time recipe cycle. If hot days have you perspiring, you can protect yourself from the damage of long-term heat exposure with a potassium boost. This mineral reduces the strain on your heart by lowering your blood pressure.
Folates are another tremendous benefit of fresh zucchini. An adequate folate intake is critically important for pregnant women and can aid in cell division, so it’s crucial for small children as well.
While zucchini is technically a fruit, it tastes best when treated as a vegetable. As zucchinis grow, they can develop a fibrous texture and taste rather bland. However, if you like to bake with this squash, you can shred them and use them for sweets including breads and cakes.
Fresh, young summer squash is easy to spiralize and add to cool salads or warm main dishes. For example, a quick one pot supper loaded with fresh eggplant, cherry tomatoes, spiral summer squash noodles and a bit of fresh mozzarella can be a great way to celebrate summer’s bounty, particularly if you’ve got some fresh basil in your herb garden.
Sliced and Diced Zucchini
Thinly sliced squash can be baked into crisp chips for a fresh snack, or fresh summer squash can be cut into chunks and stewed with eggplant for fresh ratatouille. Top the meal off with a hearty whole grain bread and a good cheese and you’ll be well satisfied.
Summer squash has a delicate natural sweetness, particularly the small squashes. For a delicious side dish, consider slicing your summer squash into long, thin planks. Be sure to leave the skin on. Brush these planks with olive oil on both sides, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Grill them until for 3 to 4 minutes or until they start to brown. You can either drizzle them with a mild balsamic vinaigrette and serve at this point, or add the vinaigrette and return them to the grill to infuse the balsamic flavor. Be aware that if your vinaigrette contains sugar, your squash flesh will caramelize a bit. Keep an eye on them! A light caramelization can be delicious, but overdoing it will leave your squash with a burnt taste.
You can also enjoy plain yellow squash blossoms in early spring. Once the blossoms are on the plant, you can purchase these and enjoy them fried or baked for a delicate, yummy treat.
It should be pointed out that zucchini doesn’t have a strong flavor. This greatly expands your options when building dishes around this fresh, white-fleshed squash. The dark green skin can be left on when you shred it. You can also cut small zucchinis into disks for dipping into a cool, creamy veggie dip. If you like to grill, cut your squash into chunks for kebabs, brush it with olive oil and sear it to bring out its mildly sweet flavor.
Every variety of zucchinis offers cooks and diners a unique flavor with a subtle difference. Additionally, depending on where your zucchini are grown, you may find larger ones to shred and preserve. No matter how you cook it, zucchinis are an ideal way to boost your Vitamin C intake, get the fiber you need and reduce your calories. Have you tried zucchini recipes before? Which ones are your favorite?